AN EDEN Valley farmer has admitted failing to ensure that two of his legally owned guns were securely stored – behaviour which breached his firearms certificate.

The two offences committed by 36-year-old Martin Allan came to light after police stopped him in his car and breathalysed him because they suspected him of an offence.

Though he produced a positive breathalyser test result at the roadside on January 20, he was found to be under the legal limit for alcohol when formally tested, and so he was not charged with any driving offence.

But as a result of 'comments' that he made to the officers at the time of his arrest, Carlisle’s Rickergate court heard, the officers decided to carry out a check of his weapons at his home address at Dufton.

When they checked the defendant's secure gun store, they found only three of the five guns for which he had a licence.

The officers searched the family farm and found one firearm - a loaded rifle - in a shed and a second gun was in the farmhouse, not stored securely, the court heard.

All such guns must be securely locked away when not in use.

In a written basis of plea, the defendant apologised for the two offences, explaining that he had helped the police, telling them where the two guns were.

He had recently used both guns during his work, in one case to humanely destroy injured livestock, which was why the rifle was loaded, and the other for pest control.

Allan confirmed that he had held a firearms licence since being a teenager and there had never been any issue. Mark Shepherd, defending, said that at the time of the offence, the defendant was feeling “very low.”

But he had no intention of harming himself or anybody else, he said.

Mr Shepherd presented the court with three character references for the defendant, including one from a former head teacher.

All spoke very highly of him, said the lawyer.

Mr Shepherd added: “The rile was left in a locked shed and the only person who had a key on him when he was arrested was him.” After listening to the case, magistrates imposed a two-year conditional discharge.

The defendant must pay £85 prosecution costs and a £26 victim surcharge. Cumbria Police will make any final decision on whether they which to oppose the defendant continuing to hold a firearms certificate, said magistrates.